Sat 21 Jan 2012
Just suppose, dear friends, that someone gave you (for your birthday, perhaps) a quality bottle of wine, but of a rather current vintage. You would probably know that the wise thing to do is to lay it aside for a couple of years in which time its component parts would do that magical aging thing that wine components do, and, upon opening it in 2020, say,(i) you would have a tipple that was superior to that same wine opened today.
If, however, you are a mildly impatient person like myself, the temptation to open that bottle in confluence with some other circumstance (such as running out of other available bottles, for example) might cause you to reach for the corkscrew somewhat prematurely, depriving you of the optimal wine experience.
Well, Faithful Acowlytes, at last that dilemma is solved forever! I herewith present to you, the Vintage Express Wine & Liquor Aging Accelerator.
The VEWLAA takes your infant brew and, using ‘powerful Neodymium magnets’ ages your drink 10 years in 10 seconds. No, no, seriously, it does! With magnets. Look, here’s the science behind it:
I must admit I was quite skeptical, but this product is amazing. You can take a mid-range bottle of wine and in a few minutes, spectacular bottle of wine!
~Trina from Florida.
We used the wine ager on Christmas Eve on some delicious NYS Finger Lakes Red. We did not do an official before and after taste test but the wine seemed to taste richer and smoother on the palate.
How does it work? Not sure. Do I believe the explanation? Not really. All I know is that the accelerator really changes things somehow, and makes wine/whiskey taste much more smooth and mellow.
Well, OK, not science, but testimonials, and that’s exactly the same thing, right?
I’m a Believer says:
We haven’t try with just a glass but with the entire bottle let it age overnight in the accelerator
Overnight! Crikey, that must have aged the damn stuff some several centuries. How great would that taste, eh? KnuckleheadBBQ(ii) from Montana and his wife have even gone so far as:
… routinely leaving a bottle of wine in it for several days before opening it…
Man – that would have to be like drinking something fermented in the Mesozoic!(iii)
Ah yes, it is yet another wine scam, this time one that invokes that age-old pseudoscientific notion that magnets confer beneficial properties on anything that comes within their field of influence. In this case, the powerful neodymium magnets, through some completely unspecified action have the fortunate effect of making wine taste better.(iv)
OK, well, all the above came from Skymall (which sells the ‘accelerator’), via a link thoughtfully provided to me by acce245. But a little detective work turns up the people responsible for the VEWLAA. And w00t! They have a science page. Oh how I LOVE a science page. Let’s find out how the VEWLAA really works:
The earth’s magnetic field helps create the great taste of fresh fruits. During the long growing season, fruit is held in a relatively constant position in relation to the earth’s magnetic field, aligning the liquid particles much like tiny compass needles. This natural balance gives fresh picked fruit its smooth, natural flavor.
The delicate magnetic alignment of the liquid particles is destroyed during the crushing, straining, pasteurizing, fermenting and distilling used to manufacture beverages, and much of the smooth natural taste is lost. The traditional slow aging process of wine and distilled spirits allows the particles to once again become aligned by the earth’s magnetic field, but this process takes years, and dramatically increases the cost of the finished product.
Oh, how much does my stomach hurt from the laughing? Of course, once you had your polarities are re-aligned, you’d want to be mighty careful about swirling your glass, right? ‘Cos then you might ruffle its molecules’ nap. I don’t think neodymium magnets would fix that.
But hey – the VEWLAA is supposed to work on other beverages too. Why, Ethan, above, proclaims:
We tested juice, coffee, red bull/vodka. Someone even was convinced that crystallized ginger was more potent after being aged.
Are you following this Acowlytes? 10+ year-old coffee, juice, Red Bull and crystallized ginger are superior to their fresh equivalents! My own personal experience tells me that four-day-old coffee tastes disgusting, let alone coffee that’s been standing for 10 years, so I think you could consider me a little skeptical of these claims.
My favourite part of the Vintage Express site, though, is their own testimonials page. It features glowing reports from ‘Jeff’ a ‘wine & spirits appreciator’ and a ‘female taste tester’. Wow, am I SOLD!
Oh, and there’s also sommelier Michael Hanke from Morton’s Restaurant, Seattle, who has probably destroyed his credibility beyond all hope of salvation by appearing in a video endorsing the VEWLAA. After watching it, I’m inclined to conclude that the reporter who declares ‘I don’t know much about wines’ at the beginning of the story is more of an expert than the expert.
So, is there any real science behind the idea that magnets can age wine? The answer is no. But does this does stop a proliferation of devices like the VEWLAA? The answer is also, quite unsurprisingly I think you will agree, no.
•The Wine Clip (‘Using magnets to treat fluids – water, fuel, wine, etc. – is not a new idea.’ No, but it’s a frikkin’ stupid one.)
•The Wine Cellar Express (‘We can’t explain it ourselves… will the wonders of science never cease to amaze us!’
•The Wine Enhancer (You really have to visit this site)
•The Perfect Sommelier (‘How it works is a mystery!’)
Dozens of sites, claims that overthrow the laws of physics, hyperbole that makes PT Barnum look modest, veritable rivers of gushing subjectivity and not one single, spare, scrap of science. It is to make one want to bash one’s head on the table in sheer despair. Is there no skepticism of these stupid gadgets? Well, it turns out that not all wine drinkers are quite as brainless as the ones providing testimonials for the abovementioned devices. One sensible wine site that I found – The Winelover’s Page – had this to say about the Catania Wine Enhancer:
After an extended E-mail correspondence, Mr. Catania talked me into trying a Wine Enhancer for myself. I duly set up a double-blind tasting for a group of local sommeliers, comparing treated and untreated glasses of wines in unmarked glasses, revealing the identity of the treated glass only after the scores were in. I tried it again with other groups, and at home, repeatedly, always tasting “blind.” The results were never better (or worse) than random, suggesting that the device has no effect on wine at all.
Similar tests by myself and others with the other products [Some of these are mentioned above - Rev.], including a rather hilarious “offline” session in NYC with a group of our forum members and the inventor of the Wine Cellar Express, showed consistently similar results: Zero, zip, nothing, nada.
At last, the voice of reason. As always, when the science is correctly applied, the truth will out.
And that’s something to which you can reliably raise a glass. Slàinte!
- Should the world not have ended in 2012, needless to say… [↩]
- A fitting nom-de-plume if ever there was one. [↩]
- Of course, the more astute among you will have grokked the exponential scale implied by the writing on the gadget: 10 seconds for 10 years, 3 minutes for 20 years. You can work it out if you can be bothered, but basically the ramification is that the improvement scale is self-limiting. After a relatively small number of hours, the effect of further time in the prongs is negligible. Even if the damn thing did work, leaving your wine in it for several days is to all intents and purposes pointless. [↩]
- And, in the case of the Wine Enhancer, also eliminating ‘those horrible wine headaches’. [↩]